The Flight Attendant: A Thriller by Chris Bohjalian

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For a split second, her mind registered only the idea that something was wrong. It may have been the body’s utter stillness, but it may also have been the way she could sense the amphibian cold. But then she saw blood.

Cassandra Bowden suffers blackouts from her binge drinking, she often wakes up with a different man full of shame and self-disgust and has to remind herself this is just who she is. Her career as a flight attendant has afforded ample opportunity for such wild times, an anchorless existence but this time, when she finds herself waking up in bed with one Alex Sokolov, she knows this will be a ‘morning after’ she will never escape. What does she do? Runs, of course. Surely she could never explain this death to the authorities, particularly in Dubai! Her memories of the night before are a mess in her mind, she remembers the woman who joined them, Miranda. Could she have been drugged? Miranda is the only one who knows that Cassandra was with Alex in that hotel room. It is vital she makes it to America, and figure things out from there, and lie of course, to everyone. How does she know what her co-workers saw? Likely they witnessed her flirting, but there was nothing out of the ordinary there for her. Her mind returns to Miranda, and the drinking. Could she have been drugged? Surely Cassandra gets into messes when she drinks, but she knows she isn’t a murderer!

So begins the nightmare, just who did kill Alex? Why? It’s a terrifying prospect, waking next to a dead stranger you picked up, a sudden suspect in a foreign country and not clear on just what the hell happened. Cassie is a wreck, and I didn’t warm to her but on the other hand, let’s face it one’s demons aren’t easy to shake off and though we may want to be better, so many of us are stuck on self-destruct. Surely we all know someone who just can’t stop wrecking their lives. That’s Cassandra. The murder is so much bigger, on an international level, than she could ever invent.Take her childhood trauma into account, the addiction in the blood and it’s easier to understand her behavior but it doesn’t make you like her anymore. This is one wake up call!

The FBI investigates and naturally the flight crew is interviewed,  her included, but that’s it. It was almost too easy, getting away. She meets another man, you’d think she would be terrified of all strangers after the horror she just went through, but no. Back to her ways, one could say ‘maybe it’s shock’, wouldn’t you imagine serious PTSD after being involved in a murder? But drinking… it’s so good at numbing you! We return to what we know, like a dog returning to it’s vomit. She will unravel, of course she will! How can she not when she sees her photo on the New York Post website?

Spies, the KGB, cold-hearted executioners, just what does the FBI think Alex was involved in? His work did take him to Russia. Why did he never mention this Miranda woman to his co-workers? It isn’t long before she thinks she is being followed. Those involved are hoping that maybe the problem, being Cassandra, will take of itself…What’s worse than one’s reputation exposed to public judgement? She is such a mess already, surely she won’t be able to face the shame? How far does she have to fall before she hits the bottom? A death isn’t enough? With the digital age, there are no secrets, and she is exposed.

It’s not the FBI she needs to worry about, or whether or not anyone will ever believe her story about this mystery woman Miranda. It’s who is really after her, who wants hee silenced. Espionage in stories usually involve characters of high intelligence, not drunken ‘tarts’ who black out and find themselves through happenstance caught up in international incidents. I like the idea, she is just absolutely clueless and from the moment she wakes up all the way to the end she is completely lost. Let’s face it, her life was a total disaster before Alex Sokolov. The one constant is that she puts her foot in it, and leaves tracks.

I didn’t really care for her, I was actually more invested in Miranda. These sort of thrillers aren’t my usual go to read and I will say Bohjahlian gives readers something completely different eat time he writes. I prefer Midwives and Sleepwalker personally, but I cared enough to see this to its conclusion. Usually I shy away from anything involving spies, but the idea of a woman blacking out and finding herself next to a dead body reeled me in.

Publication Date: March 13, 2018

Doubleday

 

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